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Breakfast links: News not to overlook

Overlook concept from National Coaliion to Save Our Mall.
Overlooked site for Latino museum: Philip Kennicott suggests a better spot for the proposed National Museum of the American Latino: on the Banneker Overlook at the end of L'Enfant Promenade. A museum there would have great water views, and could anchor extending Mall activity down this promising but underutilized corridor. (Post)

Both exits are pleasant: Metro has added signage in Columbia Heights Metro pointing to Mount Pleasant and Pleasant Plains, at Jim Graham's request. It's better than renaming the station "Columbia Heights-Mount Pleasant/Pleasant Plains," though DCist wonders if it could confuse some visitors by not including both street information and neighborhoods in one sign. Should Petworth get a sign pointing to Park View? (DCist)

Get your SmarTrip history: WMATA has launched Phase 1 of their SmarTrip self-service Web site, showing your SmarTrip history and allowing reporting of lost and stolen cards. You can create an account with the information on your SmarTrip, though Jaime Fearer and Matt Johnson ran into some problems. Has it worked for you?

Street vendor patron?: Do you buy food from street vendors in DC? Might you if there were more? DCRA wants your input to improve their upcoming regulations.

Most of us don't exist to POLITICO: It's no surprise, but media outlets that follow national politics continue to act as though nobody lives in DC except people who work in national politics. City Paper mocks the latest example, from POLITICO, which talked about how great the economy is... if you're one of "227 Washington, D.C. Elites."

Bicycle "superhighways" nice but not so super: London has opened some "cycle superhighways," welcome additions to the city's infrastructure though more like just bike lanes and with some gaps and other issues. (TheCityFix, Cycling Weekly, Erik W)

New meaning of "airpark": Berlin turned a huge but unneeded Nazi-era airport into a park. They didn't have money to redesign it, but locals have made good use of its open and forested spaces anyway. (LA Times)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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I like the Pleasant Plains sign. I'm not sure it's particularly clear (East and West seem like the obvious choices), but I'm happy to see my neighborhood mentioned.

by jcm on Jul 20, 2010 9:31 am • linkreport

Kennicott's idea might be better, but my idea for putting the museum on New Mexico Avenue is funnier.

by Redline SOS on Jul 20, 2010 9:37 am • linkreport

Worked for me to register smartrip.

Only hiccup was needing to know the original phone number and zip code I registered it to (because information I provided didn't match their records).

I worry when I try to do my other cards that the information will be totally antiquated and I won't be able to guess the right phone/zip combo online. I hope the operators standing by will be accommodating and allow me a few guesses among the various possibilities.

by ah on Jul 20, 2010 10:04 am • linkreport

Who want's to go to a Latino American museum? I think a much better way of honoring various American sub-groups might be in the American Museum of History. Nothing says you've arrived like sharing the same roof.

by Thayer-D on Jul 20, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

I took the street vendor survey. It has way too many questions, like 40 or 50, many of which were redundant. The most useful one (paraphrased, "what kind of foods would you prefer to see represented more") had the first option, ethnic food, pre-selected. Ummm... okay...

Anyway, apart from the very novice survey design, I don't really get what they hope to get out of it, or what they might do with the results. What policy can DCRA really enact as a result of this, other than just issuing more or fewer permits? Don't market forces dictate this just fine, and how would the responses of a bunch of self-selected internet users guide this in any useful way, anyway?

by Jamie on Jul 20, 2010 10:20 am • linkreport

Tempelhof Airport actually pre-dates the Nazi by a decade or so, being established in 1923, although the current terminal buildings are part of a Nazi-lead reconstruction of Berlin, begun in 1934. Tempelhof is the first airport to link up with subway system as a U-Bahn station was added in 1927. The airport is best known for the critical role it played in keeping Berlin alive during the Berlin Airlift.

Captcha: unwise objectivity

by ksu499 on Jul 20, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

I'd want to go to a Latino museum.

There are more Latino people than Black people in our country now. Both groups have overcome very different struggles in the American experience, and museums documenting that history and educating the rest of us on how our country is richer for it would be nice.

by mch on Jul 20, 2010 10:26 am • linkreport

That Politico article and accompanying poll is ridiculous. What they basically discovered is that people who are A. employed, B. highly-educated, and C. earn more that the average American are more optimistic than average. I'm shocked. SHOCKED!

by Adam Lewis on Jul 20, 2010 10:33 am • linkreport

Did anybody else feel that the SmarTrip website asked for WAY too much personal information in order to register?

by andrew on Jul 20, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

I hate to do this but...Latino is not a race, Latino encompasses many races. "Hispanic or Latino origin is independent of race and is termed "ethnicity" by the United States Census Bureau.

by Rj on Jul 20, 2010 10:58 am • linkreport


Yes. It did. But if WMATA plans to use this account interface to eventually add money/passes to your SmarTrip using a credit card, SmartBenefits, etc. then I don't think it asks any more information than most sites that process financial data. Just never answer questions like the last four digits of your SSN, place of birth, or mother's maiden name since other institutions are most likely to use those personal identifiers as well.

by Adam Lewis on Jul 20, 2010 11:01 am • linkreport

I'm waiting for the gay museum.

And my coworker is now using the Smartrip website to check whether her teenage daughter is going where she says she is.

by Steve S on Jul 20, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

Re: SmarTrip registration:

Yeah, I have no idea what the last four digits of the phone number I used to register are. I'm guessing it was whatever my dorm room number was in my freshman year of college (eight years ago). Looks like I'll have to call them to see if they can help.

by Steven Yates on Jul 20, 2010 11:23 am • linkreport

SmarTrip registration FAIL.

Same deal as steven yates and ah.

It says my phone and zip do not match the original registration on the card.

I am mostly sure it SHOULD be the same for both. I am not excited about calling to sort it out.

by Moira on Jul 20, 2010 11:31 am • linkreport

Do you buy food from street vendors in DC?

Even if you don't because the food sucks and you want better food, please fill the amateurish poll.

by Jasper on Jul 20, 2010 11:32 am • linkreport

@Rj, sure Latino isn't a race, but neither is "Native American." I do like the idea of beautifying that L'Enfant Promenade overlook with great architecture and foot traffic.

by Fabian on Jul 20, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport


According to United States Census Bureau Native American is a race. But I think there will be a lot of fighting about any location. Once you put one minority sub-group on the Mall, they all will have to be on the Mall. The term Latino encompasses so many people, sub-groups and cultures; it will be a miracle if they can come to a consensus on the content of a museum.

by RJ on Jul 20, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

ksu499, agreed. I thought the title was fishy.

Also, such an article is worthless without photos.

by spookiness on Jul 20, 2010 11:57 am • linkreport

Yeah, I'm not sure about the reason for the post on POLITICO. Isn't it like noticing that birds eat worms? Yeah, the publication is aimed at a certain segment of the population so therefore the articles are geared towards that segment. So what?

DCRA's survey was fantastic. At least they are making active attempts to find out what their customers (ie the public) want. No, Jamie, market forces clearly do not dictate what kind of food is sold. You may remember reading here earlier about the distributors where many vendors park their carts at night pressuring them into taking the usual sodas, hot dogs and chips. Perhaps this survey can be used by DCRA to put pressure on the system to get us a greater variety and quality of street food. THEN market forces can help determine exactly what that variety would be. (Yes, since the online survey is self-selecting, it's biased. Perhaps they are using other methods to gather info. I don't know. No reason to not do the internet survey. It's better than nothing.)

by Josh S on Jul 20, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

Wow. I though my criticism of the survey was pretty reasonable, and you've said nothing to address it other than "it's better than nothing."

Actually, a survey with poor methodology is worse than nothing, because you will presumably use the information to presumably make decisions as if it were good information. Bad information is, actually, worse than no information. If you asked someone the temperature outside, would you rather they tell you they didn't know, or make something up? Beyond the obvious uselessness of data from poorly designed surveys, it also takes time and money to develop and administer it.

If people are putting pressure on vendors to sell certain things, then why on earth do we need a survey to address that problem?

A very simple survey with a few well-thought-out questions would have still been biased, but the data would have been a lot better because a lot more people would be likely to complete it.

You seem to think that because "doing something" is better than "doing nothing" that we can't be critical of really lame efforts at doing something. I guess you just want a government that has the appearance of doing something useful, regardless of whether or not it is? I personally want something more, and don't like seeing taxpayer money wasted on stupid things like this.

by Jamie on Jul 20, 2010 12:42 pm • linkreport

RE: SmartTrip-

Creating an account went fine for me; I definitely look forward to the day when I can add fares by credit card (especially since I just spotted I'm down to $7... doh).

One minor complaint: when logging out it leads to a confirmation prompt. I can't think of many websites which do this... if you've made the effort to click on the little log out text, you probably want to log out; and if you don't: just sign in again. Other than that, this seems like the start of a good thing.

by Bossi on Jul 20, 2010 12:43 pm • linkreport

More masonic rot from Judy Feldman & Co.

That location, if built as proposed, would conflict with the under grounding of I-395.

Of course the new urbainist contempt for freeways has to include hemming them in to make their under grounding more difficult and expensive.

by Douglas A. Willinger on Jul 20, 2010 1:02 pm • linkreport

It didn't seem like too much personal information.
address--to send card replacements; they asked for this if you registered by phone
phone--okay; only need one
birthday--only thing sketchy, but you could provide a bogus one. Just remember it.

by ah on Jul 20, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

@RJ: American isn't a race, but we seem to have a lot of museums dedicated to them. Jewish isn't a race either, but we have the Holocaust Museum. Does a group have to be defined as a "race" to have a history and culture that should be recognized?

@Thayer-D: I'm glad that your ethnicity, culture and the history of your ancestors is completely "American," but many people's aren't. But hey, hegemony is fun, let's do it!

by Tim on Jul 20, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

SmarTrip Registration Update: I was able to get through to a person (after a few tries) and get retrieve my phone number. Finished up registration, got the confirmation email about a minute later and am now up and running. Looks like you can go back to Jan 1 2010 if you want to retrace your footsteps since the beginning of the year. Also helpful to see how long trips are from gate to gate.

by Steven Yates on Jul 20, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport


Thank you for your comments. The survey is very similar to a survey DCRA did in 2006 which help lead to new regulations that allowed many of the new foods you see in carts and food trucks across the city right now. Posted right below the survey are new rules we are hoping to get approved by Council in the coming months which will make DC as innovative in types of foods sold, appearance of carts, maximize entrepreneurial opportunities and much more.

We want to compare the data we collect with this survey to the data from 2006 and use as anecdotal information when we have hearings on the proposed regulations. It was never meant to be a scientific study.

And because we used GoogleDocs for the survey and promoted using social media tools, neighborhood listservs and our website, there was no taxpayer dollars spent.

Please email me at michael (dot) rupert (at) dc (dot) gov if you have any other questions or suggestions. Thanks.

by Mike Rupert on Jul 20, 2010 1:54 pm • linkreport

@ Tim,
To quote Frank Lloyd Wright,
"America isn't a country as much as a state of mind"

by Thayer-D on Jul 20, 2010 2:03 pm • linkreport

I would love to see museums that pull tourists into parts of the city other than the Mall and Arlington.

Frederick Douglas house, Spy Museum (sort of), and the National Zoo are the best chances to get tourists out into DC. The African American Civil War Memorial needs a push (like a better building) to bring in more visitors.

Can the Latino history museum help in this regard? Mount Pleasant or Columbia Heights might be good locations.

We should move the aquarium to the waterfront and dramatically upgrade it. That is, if we ever do the Anacostia riverfront development that Mayor Williams touted at the last Citizen Summit.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 20, 2010 2:12 pm • linkreport

Make, thank you for your response. No, this isn't a big deal, and i am sure it's not going to consume hundreds of hours of someone's time. I guess if it's just supposed to be anecdotal then why not just keep it simple and have a suggestion box (a simple feedback form)? I think you'd get a lot more feedback than with a really long survey.

A survey only means something if it's designed well. But if you can't do that, or it isn't worth doing that, asking a few simple open-ended questions will elicit more responses and get people to tell you what their concerns really are, instead of what you think they are. Sometimes less is more.

by Jamie on Jul 20, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

A race is whatever we collectively consider a race. It is not an objectively defined term, and part of the point of the civil rights movement was that making it one shouldn't ever be required. The US Census Bureau is an authority only insofar as they represent the outcome of a political process involving groups organized enough to claim a racial identity and force it on the bureaucracy. The rejection of strict concepts of racial identity (which inherently involve a measure of segregation) has both strengthened and been strengthened by racial intermarriage.

It's a term of great historical interest that is not going to be relevant in 21st century society, let's just leave it at that.

With that said, a note:

"American" is actually a large portion of the 'Ancestry' responses to the Census, and that self-identification is very geographically distinct:

by Squalish on Jul 20, 2010 2:51 pm • linkreport

@Squalish - interesting. What's with all the German? That doesn't seem likely. I happen to know that's bad data for some of those counties in Michigan - you pick up the phone book and every name is polish, e.g Presque Isle Co. However, it is self-reported data.

by Bianchi on Jul 20, 2010 3:23 pm • linkreport

Bianchi, it is something like 51 million Americans trace their heritage to Germany, larger than any other group. Why does this seem unlikely to you?

by NikolasM on Jul 20, 2010 3:28 pm • linkreport

So let me get this straight. American claim they're the mixing bowl society, as opposed to Canadians who have a mosaic society. But it is in America that every original flavor of that mixing bowl wants a separate museum.

Doesn't make sense to me.

In other words: Why do you guys (or at least all the non-white) all want to be xxx-Americans in stead of just Americans? (xxx= Native, African, Latino, German, etc).

by Jasper on Jul 20, 2010 3:49 pm • linkreport

I'd wager nearly all those 51 mill can also trace back to other heritages too. In my own background I know there's at least one person aus Deutschland but also others from at least half a dozen other places just among the ones I know.

by Bianchi on Jul 20, 2010 4:06 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: I didn't _want_ to be xxx-American (in my case, xxx was successively Negro, black, and now African), but I was given no choice in the matter. I grew up during a time when the majority members of this society reminded me of that fact almost literally every minute of every day. The best I could do was make it into something positive, to be proud about rather than ashamed of.

Things have changed for the better. My children were not reminded as frequently and forcefully as I was. The country managed to elect its current President. But being African-American still has nothing to do with what one wants.

I personally would have preferred my group to be part of an inclusive American cultural museum in order to emphasize the fact that we are plain Americans as well as African-Americans, but I fully understand the sentiments that have led to a specifically African-American museum on the Mall.

by davidj on Jul 20, 2010 5:04 pm • linkreport


Like most Americans, I can lay claim to several ethnic backgrounds... hence I could use several prefixes to the "xxx-American" titling. However, as a dual-citizen, I tend to only use Italian-American in more everyday conversation.

I might present myself as the other ethnicities if I'm at events specifically relating to those, such as some of the events at the Swiss Embassy or the Goethe-Institut, but even then I'll tend to just be "American".

I'd wager other dual-citizens are likely in the same camp as to how they describe themselves. As for those with just one nationality but still using their ethnic prefixes: I'd wager it's more as a homage to their family's culture & heritage; not so much a knock at their "American" per se unless they have other reservations about their American side.

by Bossi on Jul 20, 2010 5:28 pm • linkreport

I will have to say this; whenever I hear a Latino say "viva la raza" I can't help but to do a facepalm.

by Zac on Jul 20, 2010 6:29 pm • linkreport

Re: SmartTrip

I got a chuckle out of the first security question that it allowed me to select "What was the make of your first vehicle?" Especially when reasonable percentage of Metro riders don't own cars, maybe that shouldn't have been the first security question?

by Erik on Jul 20, 2010 6:29 pm • linkreport


Good point! Perhaps Metro riders with good memories could answer Rohr, Breda, or CAF/AAI... depending on which car you first hopped into. Or for other folks, perhaps Radio Flyer for one's first tricycle...

by Bossi on Jul 20, 2010 6:42 pm • linkreport

I got a chuckle out of the first security question that it allowed me to select "What was the make of your first vehicle?"

Quick way to tell Generation X from Generation Y: the former's Big Wheels were manufactured by Marx Toys and the latter's by Empire Plastics.

by cminus on Jul 21, 2010 9:52 am • linkreport

The US and most of the Americas have always failed when it comes to races. The Census makes the problem worst when people from other countries get confused because of our backwardsass definitions of race.

How about having a Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Capoid, Congoid & Australoid museums.

There is no such race as Black, White, Latino, Asian, African, American.

Black and African arent the same race; their are 1000's of races in Africa. Blacks are a mix of many races

Asian refers to anyone in the continent of Asia

Latino is ethnicity and depending on how you view that you could have people that are descendants of Amerindian or Amerindian + Sub Saharan African, Northern African or Southern European or any combination of those listed.

White/Caucasian White refers to Europeans depening on how you look at that it can exclude the Basque & Sami. Caucasian used to refer to people of the Caucasus mountains only; now its anyone in the eastern hemisphere north of central Sudan and west of China

by kk on Jul 21, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

On the theoretical aspect, I don't like the idea of "let's give everyone a museum". The American History Museum should contain it all.

On the practical aspect: look to the American Indian Museum as to why this "we want a museum" consensus-building fails. The building is by and large impressive, but doesn't have much content and lacks cohesion because every tribe wanted their own thing. The fractured approach just doesn't make for a good visiting experience.

by DHF on Jul 21, 2010 2:08 pm • linkreport

Black and African arent the same race; their are 1000's of races in Africa.

That is wrong; they're all composed of 1,000s of ethnicities.

by Zac on Jul 22, 2010 12:31 am • linkreport

Latino or Hispanics are identified by their language. There are many races involved as there are black, white and brown Latinos or Hispanics. Latinos and Hispanics are also discriminated on the basis of their language, their names, and their country of origin.

Just because some people might ease up on their discrimination or prejudice because they think you are possibly a "white" Latino/Hispanic does not mean some bias does not linger or was never there in the first place.

The funny thing is, most of the Southwestern United States, Florida, Louisiana and other former Spanish colonies have had Latino or Hispanic influence that predates more recent immigration. Some of the more recent immigrants, say for example the Cuban immigration after the fall of Cuba to Castro has been a significant benefit to the American way of life. The same can be said of the other waves of immigration to come from Hispanic or Latino countries in North America (Mexico) and from Central and South America.

So if there is an Ellis Island Museum and if there are Museums which honor any group which has made a significant impact, why is there a question. Also, these museums are self funded usually in large if not complete part.

by Truth on Apr 27, 2012 6:53 pm • linkreport

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